The Black or White Vision of Gordon B. Hinckley

It really irritates me when I am accused of seeing the world in black and white. Yes I do, so what? The Lord sees the world in black and white. The scriptures present a world view that is black or white. This is especially true of the Book of Mormon. And even the Latter-day prophets see the world in black or white. Here is one of my favorite quotations from President Hinckley. It is pretty black or white, wouldn’t you say? I guess I’m in pretty good company with my black and white view of right and wrong, true and false, doctrine and heresy, revelation from heaven and revelation from the devil. Check this out:

Our whole strength rests on the validity of that vision. It [The First Vision] either occurred or it did not occur. If it did not, then this work is a fraud. If it did, then it is the most important and wonderful work under the heavens. –Gordon B. Hinckley, October 2002

Put that in your pipe and smoke it, all you wishy-washy critics with vision so clouded that all you can see are shades of gray.

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5 Responses to The Black or White Vision of Gordon B. Hinckley

  1. Ujlapana says:

    “True love lasts forever or it isn’t love.”

    With all due respect, I do not think you understand the word.

    If love must last forever to be love, then it seems like you can only use the word love when referring to God’s emotions. You certainly can’t say that you love anybody, because you don’t know that you always will. Nor can you say that you love God, because “true believers” do fall away. Seems like a definition that renders the word almost completely useless. In fact, I’m not sure you can say God loves eternally. Does he love Satan? He used to. If He stopped, according to your definition, then He never really did.

  2. I am a religious person, and that is the only reason I go to Church. If I were not, I can think of a lot of other ways that I would more enjoy spending the time I now spend in Church activities. For instance, between the ages of 16 and 23 I did a lot of collegiate and community theater playing leading roles in amateur plays. I enjoyed it enormously, and I really enjoyed the company of others as intelligent and verbal as myself. If all I wanted was a social life, I would spend my time with theater people and people who sing in community choirs. They are “my kind of people” a great deal more than the saints I associate with. But because I am religious, I value my associations at Church because of the opportunity it affords me to strengthen the testimonies of others and have my testimony strengthened in return. With me it is all about my most fervently held beliefs. It is hard to for me to imagine why anyone would want to associate with the Mormons for any other reason. I don’t think they are bad people. The best of them are the best of people by any standard. But on average they are boring. They don’t read. They don’t think. They are bigots. And all too often they are hypocrites too. Of course, all of that is present among theater people too, but they don’t pretend to be “saints.”

    I supposed I might feel differently if my mother, father, brothers and sisters were members of the Church, but they are not. I am a true believer, and I wish all the other members of the Church were too.

    I don’t believe that anything in this life is inerrant. However, I believe that truth is much more highly concentrated in some sources than in others. And error makes up a much smaller part of the Mormon faith than it does in any other denomination or religion in my opinion. Even modern science contains a lot more error than Mormon doctrine.

    And no, I don’t believe that a person can love the gospel if he does not believe the version of the First Vision contained in the Pearl of Great Price. In fact, if a person does not believe in God and an afterlife, I don’t believe he can love at all. Love has many definitions, but I do not accept them all. Using my definition of “love,” in order to love anything or anybody he must first love God. If he does not, then whatever it is he is feeling, it isn’t love by my definition. True love lasts forever or it isn’t love. And with atheists, agnostics and unbelievers, nothing last forever. Therefore they are incapable of love as I understand the word.

  3. Ujlapana says:

    Perhaps I stay in the church simply to illustrate to you that it is a false dichotomy. If it weren’t, I would have to leave, no? There are many active, temple-going, calling-holding members who do not see things your way and are perfectly happy in their beliefs. They would not admit they are wrong anymore than you would. I don’t know what else to tell you–you may not like it, but a person really can pick and choose from Mormon teachings. The world is not as black and white as you might wish it to be.

    Do you really think that someone can’t love the gospel and not believe the JSH version of the First Vision? Do you believe the Bible is inerrant? The BoM? The D&C? The Conference Ensign? Just curious.

  4. No, Gordon B. Hinckley is not presenting a false dichotomy. He is presenting a true dichcotomy. And if you will study the writings and sermons of our past Prophets, you will learn that he is following in the prophetic tradition when he presents it. Joseph Fielding Smith and others have said exactly the same thing. And it is obviously a true dichotomy to anyone with a testimony of the gospel.

    If Gordon B. Hinckley’s statement is a false dichotomy, I cannot imagine why you stay in the Church, assuming that you do, that is.

  5. Ujlapana says:

    Well, I’ve been smoking that for a while, and now my head is clear enough to respond.

    This assertion by GBH is what we call a “false dichotomy.” Yes, the FV either occurred or did not occur. But what exactly occurred? Well, we don’t know, because it got told lots of different ways many years after the event. It certainly wasn’t referenced much by early church leaders and only grew to its current level of theological significance in the last century. So, I can easily reject the 1938 cannonized version, and replace it with the version Joseph wrote with his own hand 8 years closer to the event, without calling the Church “a fraud.”

    On the flip side, I can say that the FV occurred just as laid out in JSH, but that the church fell into apostasy, as foretold by John Taylor, with the departure from celestial marriage in 1890/1904.

    Or I can admit that theophanies aren’t actually all that rare–people just don’t usually go starting new religions afterward. So having a theophany at the beginning of my religion doesn’t make it “the most important and wonderful work” around.

    So, GBH is clearly not presenting a fully thought-out view of the situation. I wouldn’t expect him to–the Church has to sell itself to maintain growth and activity. The days of “investigate freely, for truth withstands scrutiny” are over. But that doesn’t, doesn’t, doesn’t mean that GBH actually *thinks* this way himself.

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